During Easter preparation, the choir asked me about the choice of "Into the Fire" as a solo for Easter. It is a choice that needed context I had not provided for them, so I am glad they asked. I had already written a brief introduction for the service which I expanded on. We are putting it on the blog by request and with bit of magic from Mark Heim. -- Sean
What was Bruce Springsteen's song "Into the Fire" doing in our Easter worship? It is not a conventional choice, but then we are not trying to be a conventional church.
When you love someone enough to endure a painful experience or great hardship, we say things like,
"I would do anything for you,"
"I'd walk through fire for you," or even
"I'd go to hell and back for you."
When describing Jesus' journey this week, the earliest Christian theologians said, that Jesus went to hell and back again for the sake others, for the sake of those he loved; "love without measure". It is even written down in an early statement of Christian belief which appeared in a letter around 390AD and is sometimes referred to as the Symbol of the Apostles. In the short list of essential things, it says Jesus "suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead."
Bruce Springsteen wrote "Into the Fire" with some specific people in mind who stepped into fire, who went to hell and back for the sake of others. He was thinking of 9/11 and people who went "up the stairs" into the fire. He may not have had Jesus specifically in mind when he wrote it....but it sure sounds like he could have.
Part of worship involves going back to live inside those saving events 2000 years ago and to make them part of us. Another part involves looking at significant events in our lives and world right now (like 9/11) and seeing Christ and our faith already reflected in the midst of them. The chorus, which we all sang with such urgency on Sunday, seems like a loop of prayer and song we address to that risen one who has been through the fire:
"May your strength give us strength,
May your faith give us faith,
May your hope give us hope,
May your love give us love."
Sean Witty and Mark Heim